The CIO (Cry It Out) Sleep Training Method: Pros and Cons

18 Jul

You hear your baby crying in the next room. She’s been fed, changed and bathed. You went through her typical bedtime routine and she should be asleep by now. Do you respond to her cries or do you ignore them?

The CIO method has been used to assist parents in developing healthy sleep habits for their children. Advocates of this method often state that it allows the child to develop independence, while opponents state that all this method does is teach the child that her parents can’t be relied upon for comfort.

Used properly, the CIO method is a sleep training option that can be successful. It’s not formally used before 4 months of age, though the ideal age is between 8-10 months of age. The issue is that parents assume that cry it out means allowing the child to cry without comfort when in fact it means:  1. You allow your baby to cry for a few minutes before going to offer comfort. 2. You extend the time between responding to your baby’s cries slowly so that the child gradually learns to soothe himself. When used in this fashion, the CIO method can be successful.

Really what it comes down to is the mother’s preferences in caring for her child. These preferences are often influenced by how she grew up and what she was raised to believe.

Like any controversial issue, there are pros and cons to this method:


  1. When used properly, this method can teach babies to sooth themselves.


  1. Parents often employ this method out of frustration and exhaustion, not necessarily for the baby’s own welfare. They misunderstand the use of this method and it can often cause more harm than good. When used to its extreme, this method teaches the child apathy and that its parents can’t be relied on for comfort. This results in difficulty forming trusting relationships as it grows up.
  2. Additionally, it causes a baby unneeded stress when not properly administered and results in poorly adjusted adults with severe insecurities. These adults feel unworthy of love and affection, thus making it difficult to trust others.

There are instances when this method may be useful. These include:

  • Breaking poor sleep association (co-sleeping, for example)
  • It allows you to set limits on what you will and won’t allow your child to do.

However, CIO isn’t meant for:

  • Replacing food when baby can’t sleep comfortably all night without eating
  • Not when baby is hungry, wet, very sick, in pain, etc.
  • Not for you to ignore the baby with the thought that it will teach them independence
  • NOT a replacement for parenting when baby NEEDS you

In the end, it’s your choice. However, the best thing you can do for your baby is be properly educated on how to use your selected sleep training method. Don’t shut them away and ignore them. Find a way to make them comfortable in their own room and in their own bed, whether its a bedtime story or staying with them until they fall asleep, show your child that its okay and that you’ll always be there if they need you.

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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Infants, Newborn Care, Toddlers


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